Qantas best for on-time flights: govt

By danwarne, February 17 2011
Qantas best for on-time flights: govt

Virgin Blue cancelled the most flights last year, while Qantas had the most on-time departures, according to the latest government domestic flight figures.

Qantas departed on-time 86% of the time, while Virgin Blue's percentage was 83%. Qantas discount subsidiary Jetstar achieved 81% on-time performance.

Tiger Airways was the worst domestic airline for on-time performance, with nearly one in three flights leaving late.

Virgin Blue cancelled the most flights, but still a fairly minimal number of them, at 1.5% -- about one in 66 flights. In comparison, Qantas only cancelled 0.9% of flights -- one in 111 flights.

However, the government said most flight cancellations across all airlines were on the Sydney-Melbourne route.

That's Australia's busiest air corridor and one where the major airlines have flights leaving within 30 minutes of each other to bump half-empty flights onto.

However, all these figures varied depending on the route being travelled, too. The worst route was Sunshine Coast to Melbourne, which only managed to get two out of three flights off on time.

Melbourne and Sydney airports did not manage to make it into the top 10 best airports in terms of on-time departures or arrivals. Major airports that did make the cut included Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Cairns and Brisbane. (The best airports of all were regional airports, including Newman, Port Hedland, Mildura and Karratha, but with their far greater flight volumes, major airports making it into the list are more noteworthy.)

Australian airlines' on-time performance has been steadily declining since 2007, the government says. Its report noted that until June 2007, the industry as a whole had an average of 87% of flights leaving and arriving on-time. That slipped to 80% after June 2007, and (ignoring some dips and peaks in the meantime) remains at that level now.

Tiger Airways has been a particularly bad performer in terms of declining performance over time. In February 2009 it achieved an all-time high of 89% of flights departing on time, but by December 2010 that had dropped to an embarrassing 60%.

The government counts a flight as "on-time" if it departs and arrives within 15 minutes of the scheduled times.

You can read the full report here [PDF].

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